McConnell: Border tax 'probably wouldn't pass the Senate'

McConnell: Border tax 'probably wouldn't pass the Senate'
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE's (R-Wis.) border-adjustment proposal to tax imports "probably wouldn't pass the Senate."

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, McConnell said that he is meeting with Ryan and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a tax-reform proposal. 

"Border adjustability is a pretty controversial thing in the Senate, but we'll see what's in the final thing we agree to," McConnell said.

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McConnell's comments echo other senators' remarks about the border-adjustment proposal, which would subject imports to U.S. taxes while exempting exports. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (R-S.C.) said earlier this year that the House plan wouldn't get 10 votes in the Senate.

Even among House Republicans, the proposal may be a tough sell. An analysis from The Hill has found that there are dozens of House GOP lawmakers who have concerns about the border-adjustment tax or are undecided about it.

The border-adjustment proposal was part of a tax plan House Republicans released last year, and supporters argue that it would remove incentives for companies to move jobs overseas. But critics argue that it would result in higher prices for goods that consumers purchase. 

Mnuchin has said that the White House doesn't think the proposal works "in its current form" but is discussing potential revisions with lawmakers. Ryan, meanwhile, continues to defend border adjustability while acknowledging that revisions are being made to the proposal.

McConnell also said Tuesday that tax reform shouldn't add to the deficit. House GOP leaders have also said that they want to pursue revenue-neutral tax reform, but other GOP lawmakers have said that they would prefer or would be open to a net tax cut.

"We added an enormous amount of debt during the Obama years, so we'll have to be revenue neutral," McConnell said.

The majority leader said he didn't want to put a "strict timeline" on tax reform but said "we certainly want to try to complete it this Congress and make America more competitive."